August 2008

Cole Tonight

Kyle couldn’t command and the offense couldn’t provide much offense so we fell to 1-5 in Southern California last night.  Kendrick just couldn’t throw strikes and it cost him (85 pitches, 45 were balls).

Six hits (five singles, one double) was the Phillies offense, five of those hits coming in the first five innings.  13 punch outs against five San Diego pitchers were part of the problem.  We know one thing, we can’t hit in the Pacific Time Zone: .190 average in six games on this trip.

Hitters and pitchers will have slumps.  Kyle’s in one now.  Generally, a hitter or two will be slumping.  Lately, it has spread to more than one batter. 

Cole goes tonight (8:05 EDT) for ESPN.  The entire country will be watching, well, maybe not the entire country with the Olympics on TV.  Anyway, Phillies fans around the country will get to see the game.  Same for next Sunday against the Dodgers at home.  Originally, both games were scheduled as day games but ESPN has the right to change games and they did.

Minor League Notes
Fans are flocking to Citizens Bank Park in record numbers.  Same is happening in Phillies’ minor league ballparks.  Sellouts were in order last night at Lehigh Valley (10,000), Reading (7,018), Lakewood (8,547) and Williamsport (2,000).

LHP Joe Savery (8-9) improved to 3-0, 1.00 ERA this month with a Clearwater win last night at Tampa . . . In Dunedin, RHP Kyle Drabek, making his fourth start after returning from Tommy John surgery, saw his nine scoreless-inning streak end in the first inning against the Blue Jays . . . LHP J. A. Happ gave up four hits in five innings, but two of the four were two-run homers against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  He wasn’t involved in the extra-inning loss.

This Date
In Phillies history……..

1894 OF Sam Thompson is the second Phillies player to hit for a cycle this season (three singles, a double, triple, home run in seven at-bats) as the Phils crush Louisville, 29-4, getting 26 singles.
1957  In one of the strangest baseball incidents, Richie Ashburn hits the same spectator with two foul balls in the same at-bat. The first one broke Alice Roth’s nose, and the second hit her while she was being removed from the stands in a stretcher.
1972 LHP Steve Carlton wins his 15th consecutive game, 9-4, over the Reds at Veterans Stadium.

 

Pitching Classic

A couple of classic pitchers hooked up in a classic pitching duel.  Pat’s solo homer provided all the runs Jamie needed in besting Greg Maddux.  Brad returned from a rest and recorded another save. 

Can’t say enough about the starting pitching but can’t figure out the offense. Through it all, we are still very much in the hunt for October baseball. 

Don’t forget, ESPN Sunday Night telecast tomorrow from San Diego.  Same next Sunday against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park.  Both were originally scheduled as day games and are now 8:05 EDT.

Minor League Notes
Quintin Berry, the speedy Clearwater centerfielder, had his 30-game hitting streak (.362) stopped last night at Tampa.  He was 0-3 in both games of a doubleheader, marking the first time since June 22-23 he was hitless in consecutive games.  The streak started July 12. 

Leftfield teammate Michael Taylor continued his extra-base hitting in the DH.  He had a pair of doubles, giving him 10 in the last 8 games and 32 for the season, most of any Phillies minor leaguer.  After starting the season with a .361 average at Lakewood (67 games), he’s at .332 with the Threshers (50 games).

Beijing Update
C Lou Marson and SS Jason Donald each went 1-for-3 in a 5-4 win over Canada yesterday. 

Team USA is off today and then will play China.

Little League World Series
Event is underway in Williamsport, PA.  The Little League complex includes a museum that contains some very interesting displays involving the history of Little League baseball that was started in Williamsport 70 years ago.

Included in the museum on the lower level is a Phillies display.  This display will be there through the end of September.

If you are ever in the Williamsport area, visit the museum.

Did you know? President Bush once played Little League ball. 

On to San Diego

3.37.

That’s the ERA for the Phillies starting pitchers over the last 20 games.  It dropped to that figure last night as Brett was outstanding in a 3-1 loss that gave the Dodgers a four-game sweep over the Phillies in Los Angeles for the first time in 46 years.

Over those 20 games, the Phillies are 10-10.  Unfortunately, putting runs on the scoreboard is mostly responsible for that .500 record.  Last night, two hits and one run.

Ryan Howard said it best in Ken Mandel’s story on this site: “We’re trying to find ways to get runs across. It’s unexplainable. We’re not getting key hits. I’ve never been a part of anything like this before. I’m not taking anything away from [the Dodgers pitchers]. We’ve been in that offensive lull.”

Last time we dropped four in LA was July 2 and 4, 1962, a pair of double-headers. (Heck, Jamie Moyer wasn’t even born then).  Johnny Podres, Stan Williams, Sandy Koufax and Joe Moeller were the winning pitchers. 

Moyer will try to stop the slide tonight in San Diego against the Western Division’s last-place Padres.  The 45-year-old will face 42-year-old Greg Maddux.  Combined, they have won 593 games in 43 big league seasons.

Postseason Plans
Yes, we dropped into second place last night but we’ve begun making plans for the postseason, something quite a few teams are doing.

Every August Major League Baseball sends each contending club a thick manual that covers the Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series.

Chapters include hotel needs, ball park security/banner policies, ticketing, publications, media needs, broadcasting requirements, hospitality functions, merchandise, communications needs (telephones/internet), pre-game regulations, parking, transportation and the postseason rally.

Ticketing invoices are currently being printed.  The goal is to mail them to season ticket holders within a week. 

Beijing Update
Team USA (1-2) lost to Cuba yesterday, 5-4, in 10 innings.  SS Jason Donald, 0-2 with a walk and sacrifice.  C Lou Marson did not play.

Game was tied, 3-3, after nine.  Under Olympic rules, both teams are given a chance to score in the 10th inning.  Runners are put on first and second base with no outs.  Cuba scored twice, USA once.  MLB should adopt that rule for the All-Star Game.  That way Brad Lidge wouldn’t have warmed up so many times before finally getting in the game.

Next game: vs. Canada.

Draft Deadline
Midnight tonight is the deadline for signing players selected in the June First-Year Player Draft.

The Phillies have signed every one of their draftees in the first 10 rounds (13 players) except #7, 3B John Coy of Benton High School, St. Joseph, MO.  The 6-foot-7, 18-year-old has opted to attend Arizona State University to play basketball and baseball.

Unsigned draftees go back in the draft next June.

Minor League Awards
RHP Michael Stutes, who was drafted in the 11th round, is the Phillies minor league pitcher of the week for the second time in three weeks.  He has been pitching lights out since signing with the Phillies.  Marti Wolever, Scouting Director, in one of his reports: “Could be quiet sleeper of 2008 draft.”

For more information: http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080814&content_id=3307308&vkey=news_phi&fext=.jsp&c_id=phi

Minor League Notes
RHP Carlos Carrasco lost last night for Lehigh Valley, 2-1, allowing two runs (one earned) in 6 innings, five hits. He walked four and fanned eight.  Pitching coach Rod Nichols: “Overall stuff was live, but command was erratic.  Delivery was inconsistent but he put his team in a position to win.” . . . Clearwater CF Quintin Berry’s hitting streak remained at 30 games as the Threshers were rained out . . . Lakewood RH reliever Zack Sterner became the organization’s first 10-game winner with four, one-hit scoreless innings against Savannah.  Need a win? Stick Zack on the mound.  He’s 10-2 in 24 appearances. 

To Boo, Or, Not To Boo
Jimmy Rollins, an All-Star shortstop, MVP and a human being, said some things the last couple of days that triggered more lightning strikes in the Philly area than a summer’s worth of thunderstorms.

I’m not about to get involved with opinions.   Judging from e-mails, blogs and message boards, there are opinions galore. That’s one of the beauties of the internet.  Or, a curse, depending upon how you look at it.

Last August, I was saluted on Alumni Night as I approached semi-retirement.  A microphone was standing by its lonesome at home plate, which was a sign somebody had to say something.

I thanked the fans, acknowledged that they are the focus for what we do and then asked for one favor, “Don’t boo so much.”  It was said if half-jest and half-honesty.

I got booed.

 

Perplexing Phillies.  Six runs, six hits in two innings, followed by no runs, one hit the rest of the way and a third straight loss at Dodger land. Goes back to what Charlie has been saying since he’s been here, “gotta add on (runs).” 

Once again the long ball produced the runs, all six.  Still struggling scoring runs without hitting the ball out of the yard.  

The bullpen, so reliable all season, couldn’t hold the lead.  That will happen.

Being tied for first isn’t all gloom and doom.  There are 42 games remaining.  Got to keep battling and stay with it….more of Charlie’s philosophy.

Beijing Update
Team USA rebounded yesterday to blank the Netherlands, 7-0, after dropping a last-inning game to Korea the day before.

Coach Roly de Armas reported catcher Lou Marson was a late-inning defensive replacement in the Korean game and shortstop Jason Donald didn’t get off the bench.

Both played the entire game against the Netherlands.  Marson had a single in three at-bats, plus a walk.  Donald had a great game, two singles, a double, four at-bats and an RBI.

Cuba is next on the schedule.

Alumni Insider
(Continuing with an inside peek at the Alumni festivities last weekend).
Memories.  It is amazing what former players can remember. They can sit around endlessly going over games, pitches, plays, bus rides…..whatever.

“You know, I couldn’t remember our anniversary or my kids’ birthdays, but I can tell you what kind of pitch I threw to Ralph Kiner in 1949,” laughed 81-year-old Robin Roberts, who has as amazing memory.

“I still can see the slider I threw to Willie (Stargell),” Bunning said, raising his eyebrows.  “It kept going and going and going.”  Stargell hit the longest home run off Bunning at Veterans Stadium in 1971, into the 600-level exit in right field. 

“When I was with the Orioles, I roomed with Jim Palmer, then a 19-year-old rookie,” scontinued Roberts.  “He kiddingly called me ‘old man’.  One night we were about to turn out the lights when he said, ‘Old man, talk to me about pitching.’  I said “Take the ball and throw it as hard as you can.  Now, go to bed, kid.”

“Pop one up, roll one over and then a strikeout,” laughed Mike Schmidt.  “I must have killed 65 rallies one year and still drove in over 90 runs with 30-some homers.”

Ever wonder what the manager and pitcher talk about when there is a conference on the mound? “I was pitching against the Dodgers one day.  They had runners on second and third with one out.  Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges were on deck.  Eddie (Sawyer) came to the mound and asked, ‘Which one do you want to pitch to?’  I said, ‘I don’t care.’  Eddie said, “I don’t either’ and walked away.”  More laughter.

There are some great photos on phillies.com from last Friday and Saturday.  Just click on
http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/community/index.jsp

 

 

The puzzle continues when Cole takes the mound.  He pitches well, the offense sputters and in the end he is winless since July 3.  In seven starts since then, he’s 0-3 with a 3.60 ERA.  Baseball is a game that can be frustrating but consistent outings from Cole will pay off in the long run.

Chase unloaded his 30th homer. He is one of seven Phillies to have 30 doubles and 30 homers two or more times in a season: Chuck Klein (four times), Mike Schmidt and Greg Luzinski (three times each); Del Ennis and Bobby Abreu (twice each).

Minor League Notes
Clearwater CF Quintin Berry doubled in three at-bats last night against Lakeland to stretch his hitting streak to 29 in a row and 43 of his last 44 games . . . Five players from the Williamsport Crosscutters have been selected for the August 19 New York-Penn League All-Star Game in Troy, NY: C Travis D’Arnaud, RHP Robert Roth, RHP Brian Rosenberg, SS Troy Hanzawa and OF Steve Susdorf.

Alumni Insider
(Throughout this week, I’ll present an inside peek into last weekend’s Alumni events).
Gene Garber was a multi-innings reliever in the mid 1970s.  Like many Alumni, he is puzzled by the way the game is played today.  “One inning pitchers?” he asked. 
“Tell Charlie (Manuel), I can’t go tonight.  I threw 12 pitches last night,” he said, setting off laughter from Bobby Wine, Tommy Greene and Mark Leiter.
Senator Jim Bunning is a big baseball fan, watches a lot of games on TV and is an avid ESPN Baseball Tonight fan.  Asked if he follows a game from a fan’s perspective or a player’s perspective. 
“From a fan’s perspective.  I do pay attention to pitchers, naturally.  The other day, I saw a pitcher walk a batter on a full-count in a scoreless game.  Ball four was his third best pitch.  I don’t understand that,” he said shaking his head.  “If you are going to get beat, get beat with your best pitch.”

 

Rough Start

Rough start.  Kyle lacked command of his pitches and was behind most of the hitters and the Dodgers won the first game of the trip.
Good sign was Chase Utley’s hitting.  He’s driving the ball again.  It would be great if he finished the season the way he started. 

Exclusive Club
Ryan Howard drove in his 99th and 100th runs last night. It marked the third straight season in which he’s topped 30 homers and 100 RBI.  Only one other Phillie has done that, Chuck Klein, 1930-31-32. Mike Schmidt did it nine times but never three consecutive years. That’s hard to believe.

Minor League Notes
RHP Kris Benson turned in another quality start last night at Lehigh Valley . . . RH reliever Rudy Seanez worked one scoreless inning on a rehab assignment and should be ready to come off the DL on Saturday . . . LH reliever Matt Smith, coming back from Tommy John surgery, has been shutdown at Clearwater with an inflammation in his left elbow.

Alumni Insider
(Throughout this week, I’ll present an inside peek from Alumni Weekend last Friday and Saturday at Citizens Bank Park).
While many of the Alumni intermingled with one another, groups from their own era wound up having dinner, watching a game or socializing at the hotel where the out-of-town Alumni stayed.

At the hotel, the Whiz Kids could be found in the lobby, sitting in a circle.  “We’re going over the hitters,” blurted Stan Lopata.  They relived stories over and over. 

Another group was huddled in another section of the huge lobby.  Their bond: the only World Championship club in our history….Lefty, Schmidt, the Bull, Boone, Unser, Bystrom.  The wives would be chirping in one small circle and the players in another.

Jean Luzinski laughed, “They’re talking baseball. What else? We’re talking about long-term health insurance.”

A glass of red wine was accidently knocked over on to a red upholstered chair.  It created a very large dark red circle.  “Hey Schmitty.  Autograph the chair and we’ll sell it on e-bay,” kidded the Bull.

Two years from now will be 2010.  Brilliant deduction, I know.  But, it will be the 30th reunion of the World Champions.  That will be the Alumni theme that year.  “Please, don’t say 30 years,” begged Boonie.

Saturday night at the hotel, ESPN’s Dick Vitale, a huge baseball fan, was in the lobby.  He was like a kid in a candy store visiting with the Whiz Kids and ’80 bunch.

Putsy Caballero’s grown son made the circuit getting autographs on caps and balls. 

Bob Walk, a Pirates broadcaster who was on the ’80 Phillies, walked in the lobby post-game and immediately hooked up with his former teammates.

The 1950 Phillies and 1980 Phillies.  Each carved out a special piece of Phillies history.  They are bonded together as champions, something that lasts forever, both for them and the fans.

 

Out West

3-3 homestand wasn’t the greatest, but winning the last 2 averted a real downer.

Tough trip in Southern California.  Seven night games in seven days with the first four starting tonight against Manny Ramirez in Dodger Stadium.  He’s certainly brought some offensive life to that lineup.  A downer that we have to face him eight times this month, but an upper that he isn’t with the Marlins as was rumored at one time.

For Phillies folks in the east, west coast games interrupt beauty sleep patterns.  Dozing off during the late night games is a regular routine (apologizes to the Phillies broadcasting six).  Eastern newspapers delivered to the driveway or front steps will be absent of game information and box scores. Thanks to phillies.com, easterners can get their Phillies fill.

Numbers
We’re 32-27 at home and 32-26 on the road.  Eight NL teams have more home wins.  We, the Cardinals (32-27) and Brewers (32-28) have the most wins in enemy territory.

Dobbs on Top
Greg moved to the top with his pinch-double yesterday afternoon.  Phillies pinch-hit leaders for a season:
21 Greg Dobbs  2008
20 Doc Miller  1913
19 Greg Gross  1982
18 Rene Monteagudo 1945
       Dave Philley  1958
17 Tony Taylor  1974
16 Mike Rogodzinski 1973
 Ricky Jordan  1993
 Dave Dellucci  2006
Philley was a switch-hitter, Taylor and Jordan batted from the right side and the rest hit from the left side.

Alumni Insider
(Throughout this week, I’ll present an inside peek at the Alumni Weekend festivities).

Wearing a Phillies uniform creates a bond that lasts a lifetime. That is evident whenever Alumni get together such as this weekend. 
Juan Samuel got a little emotional during his Wall of Fame induction ceremonies on Friday night.  “I’m up here with Hall of Famers, teammates I played with and guys I watched on a black and white TV in the Dominican Republic.”
The fan reaction created goosebumps as he circled the field for what we traditionally call a victory lap.  It was like watching a love wave.  As he approached each section, that section would rise and applaud. 
Saturday night was a tribute to Robin Roberts and his 1950 Whiz Kids teammates, a National League championship club.  Over 40 Alumni, including seven graying Whiz Kids, were on hand.
We probably took the last Whiz Kids “team photo” during the ceremonies and then the seven were recipients of a victory lap, riding in Toyota convertibles.  You can’t believe how thrilled Stan Lopata, Curt Simmons, Maje McDonnell, Putsy Caballero, Bob Miller, Jack Mayo and Robbe were at the reception they received from the fans.
Robbie was very appreciative of being saluted but he wanted the focus to be on his teammates.  “We had a special bonding with that team.  It was a different era.  We were friends, had roommates, traveled by train and were close-knit, a real family feeling.”
In spring training of 1962, Phillies president Bob Carpenter met Robbie at a Tampa restaurant in spring training.  Robbie had been sold to the Yankees after the previous season.  Bob told Robbie no one would ever wear 36 again.
They didn’t have on-the-field ceremonies back then to we decided on Saturday to “officially” retire number 36, although no one had worn it for 37 seasons.  It was displayed as a retired number at Veterans Stadium and again at Citizens Bank Park.  “That was really special,” he beamed after current president David Montgomery presented him with a framed #36, 1950-style Phillies jersey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, cf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Werth, lf; Jenkins, rf; Bruntlett, 3b; Ruiz, c; Moyer, p.

11:25 a.m. weather update…field is covered but we expect to play.  Thunderstorms in the area.

RUNS!
Phinally, some runs.  Brett Myers was impressive again and the offense finally scored leading to a 4-2 win last night over the Pirates before yet another Citizens Bank Park sellout. 

J-Roll was a perfect 4-4 with a pair of triples. It isn’t any secret he ignites the offense.

The Phillies had gone 23 innings with a blank scoreboard.  We weren’t close to the club record of 38 innings in July of 1960. 

Myers didn’t like coming out of the game and let Charlie know but that is part of the game.   Players who want out of games don’t last very long in the majors.

California Journey
The most success the Phillies have had since the All-Star Game break is on the road.  Strange.

Well, the road is where the team is headed following this afternoon’s game.  The tough Southern California trip features seven night games, four in Los Angeles and three in San Diego next weekend. Let’s hope the road magic continues.

National TV
ESPN will televise tomorrow night’s game from Dodger Stadium nationally.  It will be blacked out in the Philadelphia market as Comcast SportsNet is carrying the game.

The Sunday, August 17, game in San Diego has been moved from an afternoon game to 8:05 p.m. (EDT) for an ESPN Sunday Night telecast with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.  It will be the Phillies third appearance on Sunday night this season. 

ESPN has the rights to change one more Phillies game for a Sunday night national telecast and they’ve done that…picking a game two weeks from today (August 24) at Citizens Bank Park against Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers.  So, change your schedules to 8:05 p.m.

 

Alumni Batting Challenge Tomorrow

Back for the second straight year at Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 p.m. tomorrow. 

Three, two-man teams will compete in the fun event, trying to pile up the most points.  Hitting one of the park is a crowd-pleaser but making contact is the real name of the challenge.  But, 10 home runs would produce a winner. 

The rules:
 Each batter gets one warm-up swing and then 15 swings.
       Foul balls count as a swing.
 Points are awarded for fair balls, 1-3-5-10 (10 being a home run).
 Individual totals are added to determine which team wins.

We’ve selected a pitcher and a hitter for each team: RHP Tyler Green and C Ozzie Virgil; LHP Mitch Williams and OF Milt Thompson; RHP Ricky Bottalico and RHP Ricky Jordan.

Don’t tell anyone but Williams and Thompson have been working out.

Ozzie vowed he was going deep.  Should be fun to watch.

 

 

 

 

Whiz Kids Reunion

Seven members of the 1950 National League champion Phillies, best known as the Whiz Kids, will be part of the Alumni Night 6:30 pre-game festivities tomorrow night.

RHP Robin Roberts, LHP Curt Simmons, C Stan Lopata, RHP Bob Miller, INF Putsy Caballero, OF Jack Mayo and coach Maje McDonnell.

Father Time has taken the rest of the Whiz Kids, who won the pennant on the last day (October 1) in 1950. The Phillies were five games up with nine road games left on the schedule.

After losing back-to-back doubleheaders to the New York Giants, the Phillies headed across New York City to Brooklyn for the final two games and a two-game lead over the Dodgers.  Brooklyn won the next game setting the stage for a season-ending nail-biter.

Roberts, then 23 years of age, was going to start, his third start in the last five days.  Yes, three starts in five days, unheard of today.

Last of the ninth in a 1-1 game, Cal Abrams drew a leadoff walk.  Pee Wee Reese singled Abrams to second.  Duke Snider followed with a line drive single to center, Richie Ashburn came up throwing and nailed Abrams at home plate.  An intentional walk to Jackie Robinson loaded the bases but Roberts retired Carl Furillo (pop up to first base) and Gil Hodges (fly to right).  Extra innings.

Roberts started the 10th with a single.  Eddie Waitkus followed with another single bringing left fielder Dick Sisler to the plate.  He drove a 1-2 pitch off Don Newcombe into the left field seats for a pennant-winning, three-run homer, one of the most historic home runs in Phillies history. 

Roberts had a 1-2-3 10th and was carried off the field by his jubilant teammates.  Back in Philadelphia, Phillies faithful erupted. 

Players of the Week
A pitcher from the Clearwater Threshers and a young Brazilian outfielder on the Gulf Coast League Phillies are the Phillies minor league pitcher and player of the week, respectively, for July 28-August 3: http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080807&content_id=3267917&vkey=news_phi&fext=.jsp&c_id=phi

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